Maybe when marijuana vendors appear at Disney World, or when the venerable theme park comes up with a Marijuana Mile theme ride, or maybe Marijuana Maelstrom.
Then, perhaps, the Village of Cooperstown – “the pinnacle” of youth baseball camps, according to Lunetta Swartout, Cooperstown Stays proprietor, (and she ought to know) – should approve pot shops, or a “recreational cannabis dispensary,” or whatever, along Main Street in Baseball’s Mecca.
Maybe then, but now the debate is more than theoretical.
Simmering, simmering for years, marijuana legalization moved to the front burner over the weekend, when Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly agreed on legislation “to legalize adult-use cannabis.” The Assembly and Senate approved the bill Tuesday, and Cuomo was expected to sign it.
Before reacting, the Village Board is waiting to see what the marijuana-legalization bill due to pass the state Legislature April 1 looks like.
But Trustee Mac Benton, who brought the issue before the trustees at their monthly meeting Monday, March 22, is determined to push for pot-selling “storefronts” in Baseball’s mecca, seeing it as an economic-development opportunity too good to ignore.
If the new law doesn’t give the village the authority to make the decision to sell or to manufacture marijuana products, Benton said he will encourage fellow trustees to urge the county Board of Representatives to allow the village to do so.
“It the decision goes to the county,” Benton said in a text, “I’ll urge my fellow trustees to sign onto a letter to the county strongly recommending that Otsego NOT opt out.”
According to Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, there are two bills now under consideration.
Those are the two concepts people in government and the tourist industry are using in discussing the news that the two youth-baseball camps, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and All Star Village in West Oneonta, are seeking permission to open someway, somehow, in the 2021 season.
“If they can conform to the state’s requirements and do it safely, they should be allowed to open,” said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. Others interviewed echoed her sentiment.
Dreams Park is planning to extend its season from May to September, with fewer players, who would stay on-campus, as in the past. (Early, it was incorrectly reported that the players would stay off-campus.)
All must present negative COVID tests on arrival. Dreams Park’s local lawyer, Gar Gozigian, is looking for state Health Department guidance and permission to proceed.
All Star Village issued a more general statement, saying it would implement all health and safety measures, and concluding, “As things change we are confident restrictions will expire and we will update.”
Editor’s Note: Here are Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch’s remarks at a Sunday, Nov. 1, reception honoring retiring Village Administrator Teri Barown on the veranda at 22 Main.
That we are going to miss Teri Barown’s institutional knowledge, competent expertise and efficiency is a given. In my nine years as an elected official, Teri’s leadership abilities were always apparent and so very valued.
Village officials, residents and visitors have all benefited from her professional and skillful handling of village administration. She could keep the day-to-day operations of this Village flowing smoothly and, at the same time, was willing to take on new tasks, learn new skills and accept new challenges.
And she always did it calmly and impartially – though as all of us who worked with her know and at times witnessed, she never has suffered fools gladly. And as (former Mayor Jeff Katz) and I often remarked, she doesn’t necessarily have a poker face – if we headed off in what she perceived as the wrong direction – she didn’t have to say anything – we knew.
Without a doubt this year has had its trials – including a March village election delayed three times and then for the first time, a tie vote, necessitating a runoff election. But as a fine example of Teri’s competency – representatives from both parties recognized and voiced appreciation for Teri’s impartial and informed handling of the election.
I know I personally will miss her not only as a trusted and knowledgeable Village Administrator but also as a friend. And as a friend I totally understand and respect her decision to retire and enjoy, what this pandemic has highlighted – the importance of family. The Village’s loss is her children’s and grandchild-ren’s gain – Blake, Olivia and Rhyder – have won the lottery and are blessed to have a loving and in-charge grandmother caring for them.
Teri your Colleagues and Community wish you a long and joy filled retirement – filled with family, travels and many celebrations. Thank you sincerely for 15 years of dedicated service to our hometown Village.
And finally – a special gift, selected and paid for by the entire Village Board – a gift representing how very much we respect and value you – and how very much you have meant to not only each of us, but all the Village of Cooperstown itself. We are fortunate that Jim Dean made this gift possible,
So Teri – lift the drape – I will then read the info and Dedication Label.
The original image of this bird’s-eye image of Cooperstown, was drawn by hand, and printed with stone lithography, in Troy, by Lucian R. Burleigh in 1890. This is an archival, enhanced view of that original image provided by Jim’s company, New York Archival Prints, here in Cooperstown.
Here is the dedication label::
“To Cooperstown Village Clerk and Administrator Teri L. Barown, upon the occasion of your retirement. Your 15 years of outstanding service to the Village of Cooperstown as Village Clerk and Administrator, are very appreciated by our community and its elected officials.
“From the Village Board of Trustees with our best wishes. November 1, 2020.”
In the long history of Cooperstown commemorated by this 19th-century Village map, your 15-year tenure as Village Clerk and Administrator represents a standard of distinguished, diligent, and loyal public service that is an example to Village officials, employees, and community members. On behalf of all of us, thank you.
COOPERTOWN – “Affordable housing” will be the priority of Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, who is running unopposed in the Sept. 15 Village Board primary, according to questionnaires posted today by the League of Women Voters, Cooperstown chapter, on the LWV’s “Vote 411” web site.
“The village’s largest employer, Bassett Healthcare, employs 2700 people on the Cooperstown campus alone,” wrote Tillapaugh in response to the League’s questionnaire. “The majority of those employees commute from long distances. It is to Cooperstown’s advantage to increase our housing stock and population.”
In addition to the mayor, three candidates are competing for two trustee positions: MacGuire Benton and Joe Membrino, incumbents and Democrats, and Mary Margaret Robbins, Republican challenger.
ONEONTA – Though Phase One of “un-PAUSE” is limited to construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, Al Rubin, chair, Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Board, wants to make sure all businesses are ready to begin the process of rebuilding the local economy.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “Now is the time for innovation and creativity. Now is not the time to be shy. We need to be sharing all these ideas.”
This afternoon, county board Chairman David Bliss announced that Otsego County businesses and industry have been included in Phase One of the state’s reopening from the COVID-19 lockdown, effective this Friday, May 15.
COOPERSTOWN –Two weeks after high school boys allegedly attacked another student and shouted homophobic slurs, the Cooperstown Board of Trustees voted in its meeting this morning “unanimously and loudly” to strengthen a 2016 proclamation that the village welcomes people of all backgrounds and does not tolerate acts of bigotry.
“I think it’s important to reiterate how much we in Cooperstown deplore racist and homophobic behavior,” said Richard Sternberg, one of the Trustees who spearheaded the action and vote. “I found it very heartening we did this.”
“Welcome home to Cooperstown!” declares Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, as – for the first time since her March election – she greets Santa and Mrs. Claus as they arrive at their Pioneer Park cottage in a horse-drawn carriage. The day afternoon Thanksgiving, good boys and girls came from all over the area to welcome the Jolly Old Elf, ushering in the Christmas season. At right, Brynlee Burr, 4, and her mom, Brittany, were decked out in their holiday finest to keep warm and wait for the parade to bring Santa to town. Santa will be in his cottage over the weekend and until Christmas Eve give hear all his young Cooperstown friends related their holiday wishes. (Libby Cudmore, AllOTSEGO.com)
State Zigged To Democrats,
But County Zagged To GOP
The Wall Street Journal headline was sly: “Blue Wave Breaks Softly.”
The article reported that, as of Nov. 6, Election Night, Democrats gained 27 Congressional seats in the midterms, regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
That pales compared to Democrats losing 63 in the first Obama midterms in 2010, and losing the House as well; still, even one-vote control is control. (As canvassing ensued, it looks like Democrats may end up with plus 35 to 40 new seats; still, not the GOP Armageddon some were salivating over. And Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. Senate.)
Whatever – nationwide. But when you look at New York State government, the Blue Wave broke hard Upstate, not least over Otsego County, with some unnerving implications.
The state Senate zigged, turning from enduringly Republican to Democratic, a feat accomplished for only two years in a half-century.
But Otsego County zagged: With the loss of Democratic Assemblyman Bill Magee of Nelson, the one state senator and four assemblymen representing our county are all Republicans, about to dive into a Democratic sea.
That can’t be good.
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who will be operating without Magee’s steady support in the Democratic House for the first time since 1991, said he’s used to working in a bipartisan manner.
In an interview, he used the term “equitable distribution” twice, hoping the Democrats will extend the concept that has allowed the state’s largesse to be enjoyed statewide.
That would be great, but we’ll see.
More of an issue than Democrats and Republicans is Upstaters vs. downstaters, Seward observed. Only three of the state’s 30 senators are from north of Westchester County. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The GOP county chairman, Vince Casale, addressed the legislative picture. Now in control of Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office, he predicts Democrats will seek to legalize marijuana as soon as January, and will press for adoption of the NY Plan, Medicare-like coverage for all Empire Staters – exciting, but perhaps bankrupting.
Depending how hard and fast the Democrats push, what went around in 2018 may come around in 2020.
Meanwhile, even local Democrats are a bit uneasy. Richard Sternberg, the Cooperstown village trustee who is also a member of the state Democratic Committee, said he hopes that, since our mayors are Democratic (Oneonta’s Gary Herzig and Cooperstown’s Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch), the funds will keep flowing.
And, as architect of Democratic gains on the Otsego County Board of Representatives last year, Sternberg is looking ahead to creating a majority next year; he’s only one seat short.
Given the new Albany reality, becoming aligned with the ruling party only makes sense, his remarks suggested.
If anything, we here in Otsego County compounded the zag by voting heavily for Marc Molinaro, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Republican challenger.
Arguably, Cuomo’s done more for Otsego County than any governor in decades, Democrat or Republican, and did so by embracing an all-American principle: competition.
The governor’s concept – divide the state into 10 regions and make them compete for state economic-development funding, and may the best ideas win – was brilliant.
In the past five years, Otsego County has competed and competed well, winning millions annually through CFAs; (the next round of “consolidated funding application” grants is due to be announced in December). Plus, remember Oneonta’s DRI.
In the world of New York State realpolitik, here’s more good news in the returns.
While the county as a whole supported Republicans, Oneonta and Cooperstown are strong Democratic enclaves, supporting Senator Seward, the county’s favorite son, but breaking blue on everything else.
Oneonta, for its population, and Cooperstown, for its iconic status, are not to be ignored, whatever party controls the state political apparatus.
Whoever’s in charge in Albany, there’s a lot to be done here, so fingers crossed.
“We see a line of men, waiting in Pioneer Park,” said Larry Bennett, Ommegang’s creative director, as he outlined his vision for a commercial before the Village Board this evening. “What are they waiting for? The camera pans up to Santa’s cottage, and Mrs. Claus welcomes him inside. He goes to Santa, Santa opens his ‘Nice or Naughty’ book, and then hands him a bottle of Three Philosophers.”